No Comment — June 3, 2010, 4:12 pm

A Dangerous Rogue State

Stephen Kinzer:

Quick, name the rogue state in the Middle East. Hints: It has an active nuclear-weapons program but conducts it in secret; its security organs regularly kill perceived enemies of the state, both at home and abroad; its political process has been hijacked by religious fundamentalists who believe they are doing God’s will; its violent recklessness destabilizes the world’s most volatile region; and it seems as deaf to reason as it is impervious to pressure. Also: Its name begins with “I”.

Kinzer’s analysis is fueled by Bibi Netanyahu’s decision to use lethal force to defend Israel against a flotilla threatening to deliver toys, wheelchairs and used clothing to Gaza. Israel and Iran are much more alike than they are different, he argues. Perhaps this helps explain why they hate one another so much.

The comparison falls down on a number of points, most prominently including Tehran’s increasingly weakening claim to be a democracy. Still, Kinzer gets an amazing amount of distance out of this, and the sheer craziness of government rhetoric and arrogant indifference to international law is a point on which the leaders in Tehran and Jerusalem seem to be united. So, Kinzer asks, why does the United States have such radically different policies towards these two countries?

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